Project Management

Notes on Handling Over & Taking Over

From the Project Confusion in Transition Management Blog
Projects are about transition from one state to a desirably better state. Management is often viewed as a source of confusion. So lets break down the confusion and build up the means for transition to meaningful deliveries.

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The Handover and Takeover process (HOTO as is known affectionately in my circles) i.e. handling-over and taking-over of works affects all of us. These are notes on HOTO for my team newbies :-P

HOTO happens when:

  • Someone substitutes a team member. This include when a project manager takes over a project that is already running, or steps in to run a recently secured project.
  • A project deliverable is ready for delivery.
  • The project ends and transitions to another state.

IMO the most problematic aspect of HOTO is taking over a project; for that matter even taking over an ongoing project activity. The reason being the outgoing incumbent is in the know, whereas the incoming manager is in the unknown. And is unlikely that everything will be made known. The brief below, focuses on the taking over process.

The following steps generalize what should occur when taking over a project, particularly:

  1. Size-up the project that you will be taking over – work with the sponsor and project team. Identify outstanding work and qualify whatever may be unknown.  Knowing what is unknown is crucial, especially when you are taking over a troublesome project. Even if it seems to be business as usual, there will be matters that are not documented and may even be hidden. This is where risk and quality assessments will come in handy.
  2. Determine the status of the project – the ① present status and ② upon taking over. This will be your assessment of the project status e.g. progress, performance, rates, etc. moving forward - and not that as was assessed in the past.
  3. Demarcate responsibilities and accountabilities prior-to handling over and after taking over e.g. who and how would unknowns be handled. Clarify uncertainties. Note that fact finding (from seizing-up the project) is iterative and takes time.
  4. Set expectations with all stakeholders, particularly those who may be most affected by the change. This will require time and effort to get to know the stakeholders, and to work with them on what to expect from henceforth. 
  5. Inform stakeholders of your expectations.

Similarly, when handling over a project, work with whoever is coming onboard to agree on the status of project, complete all outstanding tasks, and update all project documents. That way you’ll mitigate whatever work you have done in the past from coming back to haunt you.

As with all guidelines, you will have to adapt recommendations of best practices, past experiences, and lessons learned to craft your own processes and procedures. The table below exemplifies common tasks which should be completed throughout the HOTO period:





  • Update project documents
  • Determine status of project
  • Complete all outstanding works
  • Obtain sign-off on handed over project works and documents
  • Update stakeholders on HOTO
  • Assist with progress after handling over (a time-bound activity)


  • Review updated documents
  • Assess status of project – based on scope, schedule, costs, risk, quality
  • Monitor progress prior to taking over
  • Accept project documents
  • Review (where necessary) approach to execute, to complete project
  • Update stakeholders on revised project plans (and status) where appropriate moving forward. Read my Notes on Reporting Progress :-D

Exemplify typical tasks before, during, after HOTO

When a project transitions to operations, the project team may have to supply operations or supporting documents (click here) to facilitate smooth operations.

Posted on: April 21, 2022 11:10 PM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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I see that the write up is very simple to digest with the point forms, information/steps given are also to the straight-forward, which are extremely helpful.
I do look forward to a more detailed account of project HOTO, perhaps from the viewpoint of a less experienced PM.

Appreciate your comments Isaac. My recent posts are a series from my training notes, more like scribbles. My notes are summarized from personal experiences, some which may be impractical in general. Nonetheless the methods helped my team closes on time :-D

The Handover and Takeover process (HOTO as is known affectionately in my circles) need careful and elaborate transition

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